Friday 21 July 2017

Schrodinger's REF

Schrodinger's REF: Portable and Non-Portable
Yesterday David Sweeney unveiled his initial plans for REF2021. ‘We’ve responded fully to the recommendations of the Stern Review, together with the comments and feedback we received in the consultation that followed,' he said.

‘Although they were diametrically opposed to each other, I’m delighted to say we’ve managed to create a hybrid framework for the next exercise which manages to accommodate all views.  

‘As a starting point we used the excellent 4* work of Erwin Schrödinger. To meet the conflicting views of all stakeholders, we have devised a system whereby everyone will be submitted, but at the same time there’s the option whereby no one will be. The system will be completely inclusive but absolutely exclusive. It will be a 100% submission and a 0% submission. I believe these two states of being can fully coexist.

‘Similarly, on the vexed question of the portability of outputs. We have decided that outputs must exist in an equal state of portability and non-portability. They must remain with the originating institution, but will be credited to the new institution too.

‘This may lead to double counting, but I doubt it. I mean, no-one ever questioned whether there was more than one cat in Schrodinger’s box, did they?

‘I believe the sector will welcome this innovative solution. It will be both burden-free but also but create considerable extra burden. At the same time. It will, if you will, be bureaucratically unbureaucratic.

‘If it was possible for Schrodinger, it is definitely possible for us,’ concluded Sweeney. ‘After all I head up - but also don’t head up - Research England, which both exists and doesn’t exist.’


  1. Fundermentals and your readers will be aware of last week's further annoucements in line with Schrodinger's REF policy.
    The REF announcement was both an (Initial) Decision and an announcement that there was no decision.
    We are pleased that REF has been consistent with this policy, but also confused: to be truely in line, shouldn't it also be inconsistent ... ?

    1. An excellent point, Zilcho. We are really getting into the realms of the Third Policeman here. It can only be a matter of time before it's revealed that HEFCE/Research England exists and functions entirely on Omnium.